I just upped a post over at the BatchBlog called “Step Outside the Code: Be Your Own User.” Let me tease it a bit, then I’ll elaborate a bit more here about the process I followed.
As soon as I joined BatchBlue in May, I was thrown into the fire—we had a beta to get out, after all. There were lots of bugs to be fixed, display issues to be resolved, cranky browsers to accommodate, and architectures to learn. A lot of things initially impressed me about BatchBook, but it seemed like all I was doing was fixing issues. It becomes easy to lose a sense of the whole when you’re arm wrestling with tiny pieces of code day after day.
Then, a wonderful thing (on so many levels) happened—I took a couple weeks off to welcome our second child. For two weeks, I didn’t fix any bugs… I fixed makeshift dinners. I didn’t clean up code… I cleaned up belly button regions. I didn’t change class names, I changed diapers. Yet, I still used BatchBook. But I finally used it as a real live user.
It was very interesting finally jumping into BatchBook head first as a user. I had a lot of “hey, this works but if only it did this” moments. I jotted those down in a notebook. I kept the notebook open for the entire two weeks. Nolan has a knack for being wide awake between 11 pm and 2 am and requiring me to pace around the house with him, listening to music.
I brainstormed. A lot. Every time I passed the notebook, I would jot down the idea. I kept building my vision of how this thing should work. Then, the Sunday before I returned, I cranked out a bunch of mockups based on what I was thinking about. And hell if they weren’t some of the best work I’ve ever produced.
So, why is it that when I’m at my most tired, I’m feeling my most invigorated with my work? It could be a lot of things. I think one main reason is that since I didn’t design the first iteration of BatchBook, I felt very overwhelmed by the amount of areas I felted needed to be changed. Well, I’ve now mocked up a totally revamped Contacts section, which is really the backbone of the app. So, maybe it is because I can finally feel the application getting a sense of… me.
I honestly think another reason is that I just backed off of the development for two weeks and just used the thing. I organized my own contacts, made edits that weren’t just dummy data, and actually started recording new information in it as it came, leaving my other applications behind. I like the app, but I love what the app can be. And I think I’m just pumped because I finally have an idea of what that is.